It was 1:30 AM on a Friday. I had been up for four days straight with no sleep. Since Monday I had finished a twenty-page paper over the worst book in the world, for my literary criticism class, a ten-page paper for a theory class I was taking, helped my roommate and his girlfriend with their papers, and somehow fit math and physics between it all. No sleep what so ever. I felt like a speed freak on a constant comedown and come up all at once. The ceiling, in fact, was moving down and up slowly, the walls in and out. One World Religions paper to write and I could collapse for two days If I wanted.
The Assignment was to choose a religion and write about it. I had no idea what I was going to write about. I waited around a while and downed a beer from the fridge hoping that maybe my muse would visit me, the way she used to.
I went outside for a cigarette in hopes of another person’s muse floating past that I could pounce on and take hostage. None of that happened. The closest thing to that that happened was a girl walking past my porch, looking at me, and then asking if I was all right. I waved her on not even trying to hide my emaciated face or swollen eyes. After this interaction, I got caught on the question of whether or not I actually had both, or if one of the two had forced the illusion of its mate.
“You look disgusting.” A close by voice said. I looked around. No one.
“I’m tired, I’m delusional, and I still have five pages to write for my religions class. Leave me alone.” I answered for the hell of it.
“No rest for the righteous” the voice echoed. No one was there. “You know, sleeping is overrated anyway, scientist have been trying to find a way to get rid of it for ages,” said the voice again. “That’s how they go mad! AAAAHA HA HA HA HA HA!” The voice reverberated inside my head growing louder as it laughed. I looked down to see the jack-o-lantern that Jacki had carved sitting beside me. I ignored it. “I’m going to bed.” I said as I got up from my seat on the porch. “I”ll do my paper in the morning.” I knew it was unlikely that I’d start early enough to turn it in by the 8:00 am cut off. but lets face it, I wasnt making progress.
“Noone ever wrote a paper in their sleep” The voice echoed.
“I haven’t ever heard of anyone writing a paper on their deathbed either” I said.
“Oh! lots of people do, Milton wrote on his deathbed, Herbert wrote on his deathbed, and several others. Anyone worth reading really.”
“I’m not a poet, and I’m not a scientist. I’ll see you in the morning to throw you out.”
“What do you want Jack-o-lantern?” It was early. I was irritable.
The voice continued: “Umm, I may know more than you think, I was the smartest out of my patch, per-haps I could lure you to stay a little longer by telling you a story. It gets dreadfully lonely out here! All alone. No one to talk to. People hardly even notice you after Halloween. I may help you with your paper!”
I didn’t want to, I wanted to go to sleep right then, ..but I stayed for some reason. Perhaps it was my insomniac endorphin friends kicking-in upstairs. “What’s your name little pumpkin?” I said as if it were a puppy of sorts. Then, fashioning my voice after an agressive British military officer I said. “How did you get here, and what do you intend to do? Give me one reason I shouldn’t smash you to mush this instant?”
“I intend to tell you a story if you’d listen.”
“Fine. Give me two reasons!” I yelled. My roommate peeked through the blinds to see if I was all right, but he didn’t come out. He was probably scared too after seeing me yell at a pumpkin.
“You’ll have to clean me up if you smash me right now, your apartments would be irate if you left a helpless pumpkin smashed all over the ground! Plus it’s simply brutish”
“You win.. this time. What do you know, pumpkin? I”m listening.”
“Well, umm… let me see, jack frost?.. no no, that would never do.” The pumpkin started listing titles to himself. “Hallows Eve in April? No. Um, The Small Pumpkin Who Could?”
“I’m going to sleep.” I repeated and reached for the door.
“Peter Pumpkin Head!” He shouted, “That’s the one!”
“Peter Pumpkin Head?” I was curious. “Ok, what about this Peter Pumpkin Head?”
“I’ll tell you as soon as you turn me away from the wall. I’m tired of looking at it, you humans really should be more careful about which side of us you carve.”
I picked up the pumpkin and set it on the bench next to me, with the face toward myself.
“The other way you blundering idiot!”
I picked the pumpkin up and turned it around. “Sorry, your face is on the other side.”
“I tried to tell you that earlier, I swear sometimes I wonder why God gave humans the ability to move and not plants. Now, where were we?”
“You were going to tell me about Peter Pumpkin Head?”
“Ah, yes of course, here we go. First, you must understand a bit about Pumpkin culture. Pumpkins don’t believe in the same God that most Americans do. As part of nature we know that Astarte is the true God, who cares for everything on earth; blesses and impoverishes all things in turn. So our Beliefs don’t exactly correspond to the beliefs of humans.”
“Wait a second, humans are a part of nature.” I said feeling excluded.
“Yes, but humans are really the most unnatural part of nature to exist. Every other part of nature lives simply to exist, to praise Astarte by simply using what we must from her and no more. Humans have forgotten Astarte, they have become their own gods, gods who have developed other gods, which they expect others to respect as well. Money, Lifestyle, Social Status, et cetera et cetera.”
“Umm aren’t you forgetting the actual God? Or gods? What about Jesus, or Alla, or Vishnu, or Budda?”
“Ah, yes I’m getting to those characters. They all exist, all except Buddha, that is. Buddha is more of a title, than a deity. A term for someone who has been enlightened, and brought closer to the meaning of life. Ironically Buddhist are the people that are closest to nature, the way Astarte had intended it. It’s a lifestyle one Hindu prince by the name of Sidartah decided to spread after meeting Astarte in the ethereal plain. The practices were so intriguing, and different from normal human behavior that they caught on. The original idea was to become so primal with the nature of ones self that you actually met nature, which is Astarte. Confronting oneself scares a lot of people away though, and they don’t make it. After Sidartah died, and no one else had ‘reached enlightenment,’ people decided that Sidartah was the one who deserved the credit. Quickly Astarte was forgotten again, replaced with idols of a starving Hindu, but at least the thought was still there.”
“What about the other gods?” I inquired.
“Ah, yes the other gods. Well as you may have guessed Ala and ‘God’ are the same person. Unfortunately, while a messenger was giving one profit a message from Astarte, he was reading from a script, and used the first person, instead of the third person, and so this whole…, I’m sorry these whole religions came about due to misinterpretation. Vishnu on the other hand, as well as Sheva, Laxmi, and most of the other Hindu gods are relatives, or servants of Astarte, who carry out certain tasks. Except Brahma, which is the name men assigned Astarte at the same time they decided they were superior to Women.”
“Oooo-k. Does this have anything to do with the story you’re about to tell me? Because as interesting as this is, I’m really not sure I can take a pumpkin’s word for it.”
“Ahh, yes. I’m dreadfully sorry. Um.. what story I was going to tell you again?”
“It had something to do with Jack the Pumpkin King,.. I think. No Peter the Pumpkin King.”
“Oh, yes Peter the Pumpkin King wasn’t a king actually. Pumpkins don’t believe in Kings, Peter Pumpkin Head is more like a martyr turned Icon.“
I wiped what I thought was condensation off of my clammy forehead, and told the pumpkin to make with the story or I was going to leave him outside with his face to the wall, and his carved buttocks exposed to the public. He started to speak, but before he could get too far I interrupted him with laughter.
“What is it? Do I have a fly? ..Please get it off! I hate flies.”
“I’m sorry. When you talk I can’t help but imagine you speaking out of you’re ass!”
“Well that’s not my fault is it?”
“I guess not. It’s still funny.”
“Are you going to listen, or are you going to sit there and laugh at me? Now where was I? Ah, Peter Pumpkin Came to town, spreading wisdom and cash around, fed the starving, housed the poor, showed the Vatican what gold is for. But he made too many enemies, of those who would keep us on our knees,” his voice suddenly changed to a celebratory high pitch “Hooray for Peter Pumpkin, Who’ll pray for, Peter Pumpkin, Heeeead?”
“You’re seriously going to feed me that line of crap? I have that CD in my car. Do you actually have a story or do you just have an artillery of expired rock songs? I should have known. Is anything you said true?” I grumbled, picking up the pumpkin, and raising it over my head. “Or is it a bunch of crap too?”
“All songs are part of nature!” The pumpkin exclaimed. “Astarte is the muse! You won’t get anywhere by smashing me!” The timber of the pumpkins exclamation carried a hint of franticness.
I started to throw the pumpkin to the fluid like ground, but stopped short. I set the pumpkin down, not because of the pumpkin’s whining, more so because I didn’t feel like cleaning it/him up.
“Thanks for a nothing pal.” I said calmly placing the pumpkin upside down, and backward on our porch. I stumbled to the door and tried to grab the handle.
“Astarte would be proud of you!” The pumpkin moaned as I walked inside to write my paper, on zero sleep. The walls were moving, and my vision lacked focus.
“This should be great.” I moaned. I sat down next to my computer and wrapped an afghan around myself before I started typing.
“You can never be fully aware until you are fully delusional.” A voice said from the corner of my room. I looked over. My lotus plant was waving beneath the air conditioner.
“Yeah, that’s what I hear.” I replied, and started typing. “Back to Our Roots, by Buddah. AKA, Michael Miller.”